The biggest challenge facing event organizers and meeting planners today is the ability to drive attendance to their events. How can you increase the awareness of your events, drive attendance, and do it at no additional cost? One way to do it is by taking advantage of some of the free tools available, such as widgets and RSS feeds. Those are a great way to promote your events on your website, blog, and beyond.

Here are some ways you can use widgets and RSS feeds:

The term “widget” has a historical context; it used to refer to a product manufactured for sale. But in modern-day computer terminology, a “software widget” is a small application that can be installed on a web page by an end user. The reason you include a widget on your website or blog is to display information about a particular topic. For your events, a widget might simply provide a list of your upcoming events.

To use an event widget, you simply grab a small piece of code that you cut and paste onto your website or blog. When a user visits your site, he or she will see an updated schedule of your events. From there, the user can click through to the event and register.

The Constant Contact event widget is called the “Attend My Events Website Widget,” and it’s part of our Event Marketing product. Use the event website widget style guide to match the look and feel of your website or blog.

RSS Feeds
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a format designed for sharing up-to-date web content such as headlines, news stories, or blog items. The reason you use an RSS feed is to automate and publish frequently updated information in a standardized format beyond your website or blog.

For your events, an RSS feed would publish a list of upcoming events for your followers. This requires your followers to subscribe to your feed, but they first need an “RSS reader” or “feed reader” to receive the published updates. Both Yahoo! and Google provide a free reader, but there are many other free versions of these readers specifically designed for the web, desktop, and mobile. Tools such as Google’s FeedBurner and Twitterfeed can provide traffic analytics of your feed as well.

To get started using an RSS feed, first provide the RSS link to your followers. Simply copy the link onto your website or blog. The end user can then click the link to subscribe to your feed. Once subscribed, your followers will receive regular updates about your events from wherever they get their news. From there, the user can click through to the event and register.

Constant Contact provides an RSS feed to your events as part of the Event Marketing product. Click on this link to learn more about adding an RSS feed for your events to your website.

If you’re looking to generate increased awareness about your upcoming events, widgets and RSS feeds are a fun, professional way to do just that.

Till next time…